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In Wadena County, more people are dumping trash in recycling bins -- ruining bins for recycling

WADENA -- An increasing number of people are blatantly dumping their trash at Wadena County's recycling bins, according to solid waste officials.

"It completely ruins the bins for recycling," said Consultant Mike Gibson, who is overseeing the reorganization of the county's solid waste department. "It's not a garbage dump. It's a recycling bin."

Although a small amount of garbage is typically left in recycling bins, whether on purpose or by mistake, Gibson said the county saw a profound difference in how much garbage is dumped during the past six weeks.

The Wing River Township bin was the worst site, said Interim Transfer Station Supervisor Chris Harshaw, and the county removed the recycling bin a couple of weeks ago. People are still leaving trash at the site even without the bins, he said.

An entire bathroom remodel was left at Wing River including tile and sheetrock, Harshaw said. Clothing, balls of twine and a vacuum cleaner are other items he's found at recycling bins. Some people leave garbage bags filled with trash, he said.

The county has seven recycling locations and the Menahga site was the second worse, he said. The city of Menahga is working to stop the problem. The city requested names found in trash bags to identify who is doing the dumping, he said. County employees have started ripping open the trash bags and collecting records of names and when the garbage was left.

Gibson has four pages of names and addresses collected from mail left at the sites, he said. The sheriff's office requested a list.

Sheriff Mike Carr said his office will investigate once the names are turned in and they will see where they go from there.

They can usually tell when people leave items by mistake thinking they might be recyclable, Harshaw said. And they can tell when it's blatantly garbage.

There are some repeat offenders, he said. Garbage bags are left every week by the same household in Nimrod.

They try to sort out the trash from the actual recyclables, Harshaw said. But sometimes a load is so ruined by garbage they have to throw it, and that costs the county money.

The county is trying to increase its recycling efforts, Gibson said. People who dump garbage ruin it for those who want to recycle.

Amounts of trash left vary from site to site, Gibson said.

The Wadena water tower bins are getting a little worse, Harshaw said. But it's hit or miss with most of the sites. The Wing River bin will be returned when the county gets a handle on the problem, he said. They're looking at getting lettering saying no garbage is allowed.

Acceptable recyclables are:

Acceptable recyclables are:


Clean aluminum, tin and steel


Flattened corrugated and cereal box types


Clean and unbroken glass product containers only. No dish ware, mirrors or windows.


Boxed or bundled


Newsprint, office and computer


Bottles with 1, 2 or 4 on the bottom. Tubs with 2 and 4 on the bottom. Rinsed milk and juice containers.